Originally published on GuardianLV.com.
Tonight, on Extreme Weight Loss, the show is about Ashley Hylton’s year-long journey to loss weight. She blames herself for the death of her daughter, who died when Ashley was giving birth to her. Ashley has blamed herself for years, thinking that her daughter, Ava, died because she was obese.
Can Ashley, 26, lose her psychological baggage, along with her extra weight?
“She passed away, because my body wouldn’t hold her. It’s because of me,” Ashley tells the camera.
When her husband, Jason, also decides to lose weight, their partnership is put to the test. “I can”t even look at myself,” Ashley says, standing in front of a mirror in her underwear. “I just feel like I don’t have any control. I feel that in this moment, this is how I am defined.”
Ashley tells the camera about her little sister, who, one day, when they were kids, Ashley tells to “go home,” and when her sister tried to, she got ran over by a bus. Her sister lived, but Ashley says that was probably when she first started putting on weight.
After commercials, we see Ashely telling the camera again about what happened to her daughter, Ava.
“She was alive for two hours. There was nothing we could do about it, because she was so small. It’s because of me, and the lifestyle that I chose. I just held it in, and everybody thought ‘She’s so strong,’ but I was dying inside,” she says.
Eventually, she had a healthy boy, Tyler, but she and her husband agreed that she wouldn’t try to have any further babies until she got under 200 pounds.
“I’m a landscape photographer,” she says. That’s her passion.
She gets a phone call from Chris Powell, who tells her he’s read her letter. He asks her to go on a four-hour photo scavenger hunt, and follow his clues.
Stephanie says to the camera that she was 3 when she got ran over by the school bus, and that Ashley had always blamed herself.
Chris says to the camera “the theme of the photo scavenger hunt is all of the things that she missed out on.”
The clues, themselves, are tear-jerking, like the one that says: “these are the people who have made me healthy,” on her front door.
At he end of the hunt, she’s told she needs to now fly to California to the Health and Longevity building where all participants start out at.
“Ashley,” Chris says in California to her, “I choose you to start out your year-long transformation.”
She is ready to begin Boot Camp, and the first thing she needs to do is her initial weigh-in. She’s embarrassed –she’s five foot two, and weighs 325 pounds.
“I’m ready not to see that number anymore,” she says.
We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Chris says.
Chris has Ashley get on a treadmill. “When’s the last time you ran?” he asks.
“It’s been a long time,” she says. She relates to the camera that she had been a pitcher in softball, but her coach had thought she was too slow.
“Now, that’s living, right there,” Chris tells her. She was running at 7.5 miles per hour at the end, when he finally told her she could stop.
“What are you protecting yourself from?”
“From my family, I lost my daughter already. It’s all my fault,” Ashley answers.
“What’s your fault?”
“Not loving myself to reach out for help to someone.”
“It’s not your fault, it’s not your fault,” Chris says.
“I lost my daughter. That’s the reality of it,” she answers him.
“So, what can you do about it?” he asks, pushing her, trying to get her to move on.
“There’s nothing I can do about my daughter. I need to give my son the best life I can, “she says, then adds to Chris: “I love you so much. I love oyu so much,” as she’s still panting from the running she did on the treadmill, and the emotion she feels from relating personal information to Chris.
On Day 6, Chris and Ashley meet the nutritionist in her garden. The nutritionist relates that Ashley is worried that her son will grow up being overweight, also.
Chris gives Ashley the Walmart gift card he gives to all participants, and tells her that it’s good for buying all of the food she’ll need for the year.
Back at home….Chris is there with her, as he often is, to live with her and her husband for the first few days of Phase 1. Ashley is amazed to see how Chris’s team has renovated her house, and the gym and weight equipment that are there.
“The first 90 days, I want you to lose 80 pounds. When you hit 245 pounds in the next 90 days, I’ll buy you a new camera, lens, all you need.”
Jason tells Chris that he’s on board and would also like to lose weight. Jason weighs in at 398 pounds.
“It begins now,” Chris tells them. “Are you ready to work out?”
Day 8, then Day 14, and Day 26 are briefly shown. Both Ashley and Jason are shown, exercising, and even, a little bit, their son Tyler.
Then, Ashley gets to meet Amanda Freed, and Jenny Finch, Hall of Fame gold medal softball players who had played in the Olympics. We see them playing together and having a great time.
“Ashley just hit this wall,” Chris tells the camera. “Then, Jason said that this is the anniversary of her daughter Ava’s death. She’s stuck, and I have to get her unstuck.”
“I’ve dealt with the fact that it was my fault.It was my body. But, she was a person, and they took that away.”
“I want to give you something ,” Chris tells her. He takes Ashley, Jason, and Tyler to the cemetery where Tyler’s sister is.
Ashley tells Tyler that she and Jason wrote letters for her daughter, and tied them to ballons, which they will release, so the balloons can go to heaven to be with her.
That was a very, very emotional part of the episode, another tear-jerking moment, but also a very cathartic one for Ashley, especially when she released the balloons and they flew off.
At the 90-Day Weigh in, Chris says: “It’s crazy how fast 90 days goes by, isn’t it?”
Jason steps ont he scale first. His goal was to get to 318 pounds. He lost 53 pounds — he didn’t meet his goal, but 53 pounds is still pretty good.
When Ashley gets on the scales, her weight is 242 pounds. She’s lost 83 pounds, making her Phase 1 goal!
“I’m so proud of Jason and Ashley,” Chris tells the camera. “I’d like to see you lose 50 pounds, he tells them both. He also says that at the 6-month mark, he will take them by plane to see Machu Pichu in Peru.
“Three months of conditioning starts right now,” Chris says. He leaves them, and Ashley says she’s sad to see him go; but, they both work on still on their own.
Ashley then tells the camera they’re going to move to a different house. This plays havoc with her exercise regimen, and she begins to lose her motivation, though she has a living room full of exercise equipment. Jason continues on, though, exercising and losing weight.
Day 180 dawns, and Ashley and Jason are in the Andes Mountains, Peru. Ashley takes photos from their train, as they head towards Machu Pichu. Chris is already there to greet them. He does their weigh-in right there and then. He tells Ashley if the scale says 192 pounds or less, she’s meet her goal.
Instead, she’s at 214 pounds, and has only lost 28 pounds. “What happened?” he asks her. You still lost 28 pounds, but that’s not good enough. I wanted you to be a slight as you could possibly get to make the walk tomorrow.”
“I still want to do it,” she tells him.
Next, he weighs Jason. His weight is 293 pounds — he lost 52 pounds, making his goal. “That’s insane!” Chris says “Your husband ‘s lost more weight that you have, and he’s not even following the program,” Chris tells her.
Chris tells the camera that he wants Jason to push her, to keep her going. He offers to grab their bags.
Then, we see them all begin their hike, with backpacks on, uphill. “Don’t push too fast — you’ll burn out,” he says.
“Just taking a few steps at this elevation, my heart is racing,” Chris tells the camera.
“”We got about half-way up the mountain, and I thought I was going a little too slow. So, I pushed myself harder.”
Then, she asks to stop, and she undergoes an asthma attack.
Chris is very worried, as they’re miles away from anyone or anyplace they can get help, if they need any. Ashley’s chest keeps rising and falling, dangerously, as she fights to get herself under control and try to continue onward.
“We’re over 8,000 feet, and Ashley’s having an asthma attack,” Chris says to the camera. “I’m freakin’ terrified.”
Ashley says she heard Chris and Jason behind her, telling her to calm down. She eventually does, and then continues on.
“She kept going faster and faster,” Chris says. “I was having a hard time keeping up.”
At the top, Chris says: “This is incredible!”
“There’s no reason I should be missing out on all these hours working out,” Ashley tells the camera. “I move it all the way to the top of Machu Pichu, and saw one of the Seven Wonders of the World.”
Ashley talks photos up there, using a tripod.
“It was so much more than climbing up a mountain,” Chris says. “It was all of her dreams coming true.”
“We don’t travel very often. We never imagined coming to South America or Machu Pichu, but I’m really glad we did,” Jason tells the camera.
Ashley mentions to Jason about having more kids. I want to have more kids,” Jason says. “Let’s plan on it.”
“Now, we’re starting in on Phase 3. I’t’s going to be tough.”
Ashley, she just lost her motivation. One thing I do know, she loves Jason more than anything.”
I want to make a deal with you. Get to 175 pounds and you’ll both get the skin reduction surgery.
“There’s no time to be terrified. The cost is too great,” Chris says.
Day 190 dawns, and we see Jason running on a treadmill. “This added pressure has actually been very good for me,” she says to the camera, and says that she’s been running extra miles and doing extra exercising to get down to 175 so that Jason can also have the surgery.
“It’s basically like I’ve been a single dad the last couple of months,” Jason tells the camera. That’s because Ashley’s been busy working out so much. But, the end goal is worth it, they’re both losing weight and getting healthier.
The 9-month weigh-in arrives, and they’re at California. Chris says he hasn’t seen them since Peru, and that he wonders if it might have been too much of a burden for Ashley to handle.
“Wow! Look at you guys!” Chris exclaims as he sees them. “you look amazing! Oh, gosh! “Well, have a seat, guys!”
Ashley has a scrapbook she’s made up to show Chris of the scavenger hunt, and playing softball, and photos of Peru.
Chris then has the pair go upstairs to change and then he has them both do their 9-month weigh-in. Chris is very nervous, because he really hopes that Ashley will have made her goal of 175 pounds so they both can have the skin surgery.
When she weighs in, Chris says, “Oh, my gosh! No way!” She has made her goal with one pound additional, even — 174 pounds. “That’s what happens when you work as a team,” Chris tells them.
“Your wife has earned you a visit with Dr. Stouffer,” Chris says. Now, it’s up to you to prove you deserve the surgery.” He weighs in at 254 pounds.
“Getting on the scale was bittersweet. I’m not too confident I’ll be a candidate for skin surgery. But, I’ll let Dr. Stouffer determine that,” Jason tells the camera.
The following day, the doctor sees them both, and starts with Ashley.
“I have this dream of being an athlete,” she tells the camera. “But, I have this constant back pain.”
“Bottom line is, I think you’ll make a great candidate,” the doctor tells her.
Next up is Jason. Having only lost 34 percent of his initial weight, he’s worried that he won’t qualify.
“Yeah, it’s pretty concentrated for you,” the doctor says. “Your procedure, if we were to do this, would focus on your lower abdomen region. You definitely can benefit, but it’d be a smaller surgery. Jason, I’m really happy to say that you’re a great candidate for skin removal surgery. Congratulations!”
On the day of their surgery, Chris asks Ashley if she’d be willing to d0 a 5 K run at the end of the year, one they’d name after Ava, her daughter who passed away in childbirth. They’re make it into an annual run. She agrees.
At the year’s end, Tyler is there with the rest of the crowd, all excited to see Ashley and Jason.
Chris tells the crowd all about the year-long weight-loss journey, and about how Ashley and Jason met each other in high school, and about the loss of their daughter, Ava.
Then, Jason and Ashley arrive. “Please put your hands together,” Chris says, “for the all-new Jason and Ashley!”
They both look entirely different, and Jason has even shaved his beard off! Well, not entirely — he either did and is growing it back, or it’s been trimmed down quite a bit; but, he still looks way different. They look incredible! (Chris just then tells them that, too).
Ashley tells Chris she’d kind of like to have another baby.
“Okay, I tell you what, we’ll wrap this up quickly then!” Chris says, jokingly.
It’s time for the final weigh-in for both of them — Jason goes first.He weighs 228 pounds!
“So, 240 wasn’t good enough?” Chris asks, joking again.
Then, it’s Ashley’s turn to get weighted. “Okay, Ashley, take that last step,” Chris tells her. We see a montage of flashbacks, seeing Ashley is black-and white.
The crowd gasps in amazement when they see and hear her final weight –161 pounds!
“Oh, my gosh!” Chris says. “You lost 168 pounds!”
“I don’t think I could have lost the weight on my own,” she tells the camera. “Without Jason’s help.”
Chris gives them a shopping bag of fruit from Walmart, and the Walmart gift card for $25,000 that he has been giving to the participants the last few episodes.
Finally, they all do the Ava 5 K run.
“There’s someone out there who loves you and wants to help out,” Jason tells everyone gathered there.
“On your marks, get set — go!” Chris says, and the entire audience there starts off on the run.
A lady in the audience asks: “What’s next for the two of you?”
“You know what’s next,” Jason says, slyly referring to their plans to have another baby.
That marked the end of a fantastic episode of Extreme Weight Loss. Congratulations on meeting your weight loss goals, Ashley and Jason, and good luck with the new addition your family will have soon!